The Dining Room Window

I was thinking the other week about how I’d like my site to be a place where others can tell their own “true stories,” when it hit me: I have writer friends. I asked a few of them to contribute and, being awesome, they all said yes. (For those of you I haven’t asked yet, I’ll be knocking on your door soon. And feel free to come knocking on mine.)

I would like to organize a formal section of this blog where anyone, not just writers, can post about their big and little moments, the moments of life I savor. For today, I’m welcoming Stacey Loscalzo, a writer from New York, on the event in her life that scared her most. No doubt, you’ll see why:

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I have never written about this event before. Writing in the second person (an unfamiliar technique for me) made this an easier story to tell.

You have wanted to drive for as long as you can remember. You don’t have any older siblings so your parents drive you wherever you want to go and a bit of independence would be great. At fifteen, you have practiced a few times with Dad in the Stop n’ Shop parking lot so you feel ready to tackle the real deal. The road.

Dad insists that you learn to drive a stick before you drive an automatic. “Just so you always can,” he says. You climb into the driver’s seat of the grey Jetta while Dad climbs into the passenger seat. The wheel feels heavy and turning it is cumbersome but that is nothing compared to the footwork. Three pedals–gas, brake and clutch–but only two feet.

You struggle to get going, to remember which foot goes where and when. You make it three quarters of the way around the block with great success and you are feeling free. You pick up speed. Your hands are feeling lighter so you move faster with your feet too.

The car accelerates. You charge over the sidewalk, up the hill and into to a dining room window. Your head hits the steering wheel. You look over and Dad is covered in blood. A woman comes screaming out the front door.

Front windows

The next thing you remember is sitting in a kitchen you don’t know, looking at three small children in footy pajamas. Your head hurts as you hear the unfamiliar woman say, “Look. Look. This is why you always wear your seat belt.” The children run from the room.

You hear your father on the phone and then you hear the sirens. The police come first and try to take a statement from you. You are confused and do your best to explain. You hit the gas instead of the brake. The clutch had something to do with it. You try to explain but the policeman looks confused.

You climb into the ambulance and ride to the hospital with your dad. You wait for your mother to come. She’s an hour and a half away, on the Cape visiting friends. You wait in a hard plastic chair while Dad has the x-rays that reveal no broken bones. You wait for your mom to come because your dad has a concussion and you have totaled his car.

It is two years before you drive again. You imagine your parents have paid a lot of money to repair the house you hit. You know your dad has been to court to explain his actions. You know he has done hours of community service as punishment for allowing an unlicensed minor to get behind the wheel of a car. And you know you will never hear the theme song to Rocky without picturing your own black eyes.

Stacey Loscalzo is a writer living outside New York City with her husband and their two daughters. She writes for various local parenting publications and Great New Books. She blogs at www.staceyloscalzo.com. Stacey can also be found on Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook.

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19 thoughts on “The Dining Room Window

  1. Yikes, what an exciting story! I hit a parked car one of my first outings on the road, but luckily, nothing was hurt except the right front fender of my VW.

    And my pride.

  2. Scary! I had an accident when I was a student driver. I seem to recall being more terrified of having to tell my parents than anything else. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the bumper on my dad’s car was.

    Great idea, Jessica, looking forward to seeing the stories.

  3. Oh my gosh, Stacey. Moments like these are so quickly etched in one’s mind yet take so many years to even start to dull the edges. I’m so sorry this happened but perhaps it helped shape you into the strong person you are. And I love the point of view you chose! Thank you for sharing this as I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    (This is also very timely as my 14 year old daughter is studying to apply for her driver’s permit. Yikes.)

  4. I think I was holding my breath there for a second! What a crazy turn of events, in an instant no doubt. You told it well and with an interesting choice of voice. I loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever written in the second person either–maybe it’s time to try!

  5. It’s funny that I came across this because I actually have a fear of driving. As in, I don’t drive. And this just terrified me a little more. lol Great story though! I love how you told it. It was very enthralling.

    • Oh no Chrys! Sorry 🙂 I did not drive for a long time after this and am still quite timid. Writing this made it all come back and it’s now pretty amazing to think that I ever got behind the wheel again!

  6. Holy moly! Having gone through two kids getting their drivers’ licenses, I can tell you I was sweating a little as I read this. And I loved the POV. I had my first accident a few days after I got my license — I rear-ended a car. You really captured those feelings.

  7. My father had the same idea for me too. My first long trip was driving with my sister in her new truck across Canada. When it was my turn to drive, a Canadian Mountie passed our vehicle, saw the temporary plate in the window, and then zoomed out of sight. Just as I drove over the crest of a hill, there he was … standing in the middle of the road with his arm held up to signal “STOP”~! I did some pretty swift maneuvering to avoid hitting the man without stalling the truck. No ticket, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But it was a long, isolated stretch on Route 1 and I’m really, really glad I wasn’t alone – it scares me more now to think of what could have happened.

    Nice choice for your point of view, it really grabs your attention. I’m glad no one was seriously hurt. I can’t help but wonder, did you learn to drive a standard after all?

  8. What a scary story! I hate to imagine what could have happened. And no! I still can not drive a standard… I must admit I refused to try! There have certainly been some times when it would have come in handy but I just can’t bring myself to do it! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

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